An unusual sight has appeared off the generally temperate north coast of Oregon: a large, washed, colorful opah fish, weighing about 100 pounds.
The opah, or sunfish, is “rare on the Oregon coast,” according to the aquarium in seaside, a city in the north of the state where the fish appeared on a beach. The fish is over 3 feet long, with a round, orange and silver body dotted with white spots.
Opah can grow to over 6 feet and weigh over 600 pounds, living in the open ocean in tropical and temperate waters where they feast on krill and squid. It is unusual, though not unheard of, for them to venture this far north into the normally colder waters of northern Oregon.
The appearance of the fish caused “quite a stir”, according to Seaside Aquarium, which will freeze the animal until the new school year begins so that “a lucky school group has the opportunity to dissect this great fish.”
The Pacific Northwest coast of the US has been burned by record temperatures in recent weeks, while a huge heat wave pulsing off the coast of Vancouver killed an estimated 1 billion sea creatures, mussels and clams. cooking in their own shells.
Scientists have said such heat would have been “virtually impossible” without human-caused climate change, although it is unclear if this played a role in the appearance of opah in Oregon.
“We’re seeing some marine organisms moving north as ocean temperatures rise,” said Heidi Dewar, a research biologist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Fisheries Administration, told the Washington Post, although he added that it was difficult to say exactly what caused the opah stranding.